Note on the notes and links:
The square-bracketed notes refer
to text in the next Nederlog.
I keep being unwell so yesterday there was no Nederlog. And the
previous one was about Bloody stupid hysteria
+ lying but today the subject is quite different.
This Nederlog of today moves back all of 21 years, to the month of February of
1989, when I published my "Echte wetenschap & echte psychologie = genot" which is in
English "Real science & real psychology = joy" in "Spiegeloog", which was the monthly of the faculty
of psychology, where I wrote a monthly column at the time.
It still seems to me quite excellent -
yes, I am not a humble man - and "typically me", while most of
the literature I list is as excellent and useful as it was, though I
could make a few additions or alterations, which for the moment I will
not do (but see my
Some Favourite Books & Authors and
good modern philosophy texts for more about good books I've
Real science & real psychology = joy
This, that is understanding reality,
especially in these subjects, is what motivated me all that time, clearly not
to obtain course points and get rich, but because real science is beautiful
and joyful. How joyful? I literally starved to be able to buy books - for
Russell's "Logic and Knowledge" I did not eat 2 days at some point in
my life. And it was worth it.
Those who know me know that all
of my house is filled with books - there is not a wall, or it is graced with a
bookcase. These are books in 14 subjects - philosophy, mathematics, logic,
psychology, sociology, economy, religion, mysticism, linguistics, physics,
medicine, literature, history and computers - in which I have been reading now
systematically for over 21 years.
Unfortunately, a really good
scientific piece of work is about as rare as an honest man - "as
men go, one in tenthousand" (Shakespeare).
And thus it happened that in my
bookcases there may be found at a few places morons who got lost between
geniuses, in the form of some acadamic piece of shit that I had to vomit up to
get course points in the University of Amsterdam.
Because in the University of
Amsterdam I learned nothing at all (and yes, my marks were always good, but I
just as well may have earned them for astrology and magic as for psychology
and philosophy). And you will learn little in the University of Amsterdam -
unless you are so stupid that you don't really belong in a university, and
even then you learn little but some cant that enable you to enact the M.A. in
psychology to naive people ("laymen").
If you are not as stupid as that, the
best you can do is cut out this text and hang it above your bed, because from
an intellectual point of view what is summarized and listed here in this text
- if you read those books - is much more educational than 6 years of Dutch
For I will try to explain what
you should learn and read - and I do so based on the very bitter experience
that the "education" I received in the University of Amsterdam and compared
with the intellectual joys I found thinking and reading for myself.
follows is in the spirit of what I would propose as a general propaedeutics
[preparatory teachings], in some general and propaedeutical and selective
first year (as in Norway), that is the same for all students.
The question in
the background that I use for orientation is: "What general knowledge do you
need to become a good scientist?". And the criterion is: "It must be
wellwritten, clear, sensible, interesting and be of theoretical and human
interest". What follows is tailored to psychology, but of general application.
Background knowledge: In the
first place, you need some good understanding of two things: The human
civilization in which you live, and the knowledge on which it is based. Two
very good renderings of these are given in "The Ascent of
Man" by Jacob Bronowski (Polish/English mathematician and
Blake-specialist), and "The Condition of Man" by Lewis
Mumford (American writer on the philosophies of culture, technology and
architecture). Both writers wrote many more books, that are for the most part
worth reading as well - wich will hold for most writers I will mention.
For a more systematic insight
and overview you have to look into books of reference. The three best are:
"Encyclopeadia Brittanica", "Encyclopedia of
Philosophy", Ed. P. Edwards and the "Shorter Oxford English
Dictionary". Most academic debates would not have existed if the
participants had refreshed their knowledge from the EB, had acquired some
philosophical savviness from the EoP, and had improved their terminology by
way of the Shorter OED. (The unshortened one is very large and expensive.)
Next to general background
knowledge, there are three human interests about which you should know more:
Natural science, happiness and beauty.
Our civilization is, at least as far as
technology is concerned (that is used by everybody to eat of, move with, live
in, get clothed by and watches screenfuls of), based on physics. There are
many good introductions but two excellent ones are "The Investigation of the
Physical World" by Toraldo di Franca (Italian physicist) and "Lectures on Physics"
Feynman (American physicist).
Everyone wants to become happy
and everybody looks for beauty. What is happiness; what is beauty? All best
answers concerning happiness are in "Analysis of Happiness"; all best
answers concerning beauty are in A History of Six Ideas" (in esthetics,
to be sure). Both books are histories of ideas, and both are by Wladyslaw
Tatarkiewicz (a Polish philosopher with a very clear mind and an enormous
erudition). Also both books (like all of T's books) are exemplary for how to
write philosophy and science: Very clear, interesting, to the point, honest
and very informative.
History: Whoever does not know
history does not know how to properly judge what men are capable of doing. In
The Netherlands, the teaching of history nowadays is no longer a required
subject in school, apparently because 1 Auschwitz does not suffice - "for who
does not know history, is forced to repeat it".
The most beautiful book of
history is one of the oldest there are: "The Peloponnesian Wars" by Thucydides
(Greek, before -400). Thucydides had a very clear view of human beings, their
pretensions, their motives and their capacities. The Jowett-translation (19th
C) is the best.
The only one who might compete with Thucydides is Burckhardt
(Swiss, 19th C, much admired by Nietzsche, and whoever reads Burckhardt
intelligently cannot do other than agree with Nietzsche in this). Burchhardt
got known with a story about the flowering and decline of the Renaissance: "Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien".
He also wrote (in 3 volumes) about the Greeks: "Griechische
Kulturgeschichte". And if we are interested in Dutch academic talent -
Johan Huizinga's "Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen" also is
A modern historian I hold in
high esteem is the recently deceased Barbara Tuchman. All her books are
good, but in case you think you can judge politics, I recommend that you read
her "The March of Folly".
Philosophy: is concerned with
answers to the most general questions there are: What is truth; what is
probability; what exists; what is knowledge; what are good and evil etc. Most
philosophy is nonsense, and especially such philosophy as does not square with
science (that evolved from philosophy: what is now called "science" was called
until well within the 18th C "natural philosophy").
Who wants to delve deeper into
philosophy is best adviced to invest his talents into W. Stegmuller's "Probleme und
Resultaten der analytischen und Wissenschaftsphilosophie" (4 fat
bound volumes or about 20 thinner paperbound "Studienausgaben"). This is a
deutschgrundlich - thoroughly thorough German - overview of the subjects in
its title, and is clear, throrough and rather complete, if occasionally a bit
long. But all manner of fundamental problems and procedures are explained in
it very well and in really clear terms, and many of these explanations are
difficult to find elsewhere.
Philosophy of science:
is concerned with the question what are the fundaments of science = human
systematized theoretical knowledge. The volumes by Stegmuller I just mentioned
are here as well the best introduction. Whoever wants to know more should read
"Treatise on Basic Philosophy" (8 vols. on the moment) - a very good,
sensible and informed version of scientific realism. (You do need a little
knowledge of mathematical logic.)
For psychologists, sociologists
etc. it is especially important to know something about the methodological
wars in their fields of research. By tar the most sensible abd very well
written is C. Wright Mills (American socioliogist, with degrees in engineering
and philosophy) "The Sociological Imagination". In this one should read
the essays "Abstracted
Empiricism", "Grand Theorism" and "On
Intellectual Craftsmanship" - excellent expostions of the intellectual
incompetence and the fraudulent pretensions of the sot sciences, and about how
one can become a good scientist oneself.
Methodology: is more
specific than philosophy of science, but closely related. I refer again to
Stegmuller and to Mills. For Dutch would be psychologists there is De Groot's
"Methodologie" still very much better than everything else that
Dutchmen put together on the subject since it first appeared. Another good
work is Ernst Nagel's - more philosopht of science oriented - "The Structure of Science"
(apart from chapter 6, that is mistaken). But by far the most useful book on
methodology takes barely 100 pages: "Experimental Method" by W.G. Wood & D.G. Martin
(2 English professors Engineering): A marvellous exceptionally clear
description of how to set up good experiments. (A bit of knowledge of
differential equations is required to get all, but is not required at all for
the most part.) In this book you may find within a 100 pages what may take a
search through a full library of methodological texts without ever finding it.
Logic: is the science of
reasoning. Since knowledge is constructed by means of reasoning, logic is the
fundament of science. There are many kinds of logics and many introductions on
many levels. A simple and adequate introduction for virtually anyone is "Introduction to Logic"
by N. Rescher (American philosopher). Who wants to know more should
read Stegmuller's part I and II and the beautiful "Naive Set Theory" by Paul Halmos
(Hungarian/American mathematician) - which is a marvellous introduction to set
theory (that is always applicable to everything: mathematics is the science of
arbitrary structures, and the theory of sets is the foundation of mathematics
- for everythin that is (thinkable) is (in) some structure, and therefore
mathematics is so important.) Those who are really caught by the subject (wuth
some talent for and capacity in mathematics) I recommend to look as fast as
they can into "Mathematical Logic" by J. Shoenfield (American
mathematician) and into "Foundations of Mathematics" by Evert
Beth (great Dutch mathematician and philosopher), for both books are a
kind o Beethoven symphony in logic: Marvellously clear;
esthetically/mathematically correct and resonating on many levels. And very
informative, civilizing and inspiring. Yes - for that is logic as well, in
case you didn't know yet.
Mathematics: is the
science of arbitrary structures. Everything is (in) some structure, so
everything is - also - a mathematical expression. Mathematics is beautiful and
enjoyable, if you have some talent. Some good general surveys of what is
mathematics (other than the shite you got in highschool) are What is
mathematics?" by Courant & Robbins and three collections
of brilliant essays: ssays: 1. "The World of
Mathematics", Ed. J. Newman; 2.
Content, Method and Meaning" (3 vols.) Ed. Aleksandrov, Kolmogorov
& Lavrent'ev; and 3. "Mathematics: People, Problems, Results"
(3 vols.) Ed. Campbell & Higgins. If you want to know more
mathematics, you should get the volumes in Schaum Outline Series:
At least 40 fairly priced usually very clear, systematic and complete
expositions, always accompanied by hundreds worked out example problems (!!),
about all important mathematical fields on all levels. Together with Courant &
Robbins and item 2. in this paragraph you should be able, if you have
some talent and persistence, to get far into "the queen of the sciences"
(Gauss). I much restricted myself here, for real mathematics is real joy, abd
who does not understand mathematics can not become a good scientist.
Psychology: Most academic
psychology is ordinary fraudulence, in my eyes. Acadamic psychologists are
hardly ever truly inspired real scientists, but are usually academically
titled bureaucrats who give boring lectures and scribble boring publications
because they have to in order to retain tenure and reputation. As ever among
human beings, there are exceptions, but these exceptions tend to have a hard
life amidst their colleagues.
Those who want to enjoy
themselves and acquire a well founded judgment about the pretensions and
achievements of 20th C psychology should read "The Principles of Psychology"
William James (american psychologist and philosopher). Beautifully
written, 1000 times more sensible, more clear and more informative than almost
all psychology I have read and moreover - unlike most academic psycology -
based on mostly sensible ideas about philosophy of science. According to
Whitehead all philosophy is "a footnote to Plato"; according to me all
psychology is a footnote to James. (The reason? James was a genius, as was
Plato. Who was a genius in the 20th C. almost never set out to study
psychology, or stopped quickly.)
Even so, some interesthing
things have been done in psychology in the 20th C: By Russians (Pavlov,
Vygotsky, Luria) or by non-psychologists. The result of the sensible efforts
in the field is cognitive psychology (that only now starts to come into
being), and whoever wants to read nice stuff in this subject I recommend five
books: 1. "Embodiments of Mind"
van Warren S. McCulloch (American medical doctor, together with Pitt
(logician) the originator of the first mathematical theory of the brain).
is a collection of essays, including poems, mathematical expositions and a
very fine attack on psychoanalysis. A considerable part of cognitive
psychology is concerned with mathematical and logical methods. A useful
overview here is 2. "Brains, Mathematics and Machines" by M. Arbib.
Meanwhile, this is over 20 years old. Much more recent and also more simple,
but somewhat inspiring is 3. "The Society of Mind" by Marvin
Minsky (American mathematician and specialist on A.I.) More mathematical,
also by Minsky, is 4. "Computation: Finite and infinite
machines" (the mathematical theory on which computers and some models of
the brain are based) and finally, as general background, and to help you learn
to think 5. "Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning" (2 vols) by G. Polya
(Hungarian/American mathematician): A marvellous - and mathematically
elementary! - treatise about heuristics (= the art of guessing).
Personality theory: Many who
desire to study psychology desire to understand themselves. The larger part of
the science of psychology, it usually transpires rapidly, does not help at
all, and neither does most of psychiatry. Five sensible books that may help
you are 1. "Maximes" by
La Rochefoucauld (17th C, French
nobility) - a collection very sharp aphorisms on human incompetence, hypocrisy
and ways to deceive others and oneself. 2. "Interpersonal Perception" van Laing,
Philipson & Lee. In my opinion, the best Laing did: A formal theory
about how human beings perceive each other ("I think that you think that I
think that... but actuall I don't think so at all" etc.) 3. "Dyadic
Communication" by Wilmott: The same subject, but mostly restricted
to two persons, and with a more comprehensive theoretical perspective. 4. "The
Intrapsychic Self" by Silvano Arieti. Most psychiatry I read was
intellectual fraudulence and/or nonsense. Arieti is a very prominent American
psychiatrist and neither fraudulent nor a writer of nonsense. Next to "Interpretation of Schizophrenia"
this is his main work, and it is quite good. And for whoever seems to have
some personal psychological problems: 5. "Test your own mental health"
Gladstone (American psychologist) is based on a sensible commonsense
theory about mental health, that is explained in clear terms, and that is
followed by a useful selftest.
Literature: If you wanted to
acquire understanding of human beings you will have learned little in the
academic study of psychology - 20th C psychologists earned their incomes by
"scientifically ascertaining" that, on a level of significance of .99, a
reward (excuse me: "positive reinforcement") motivates (excuse me: "positively
reinforces the antecedent operant behaviour"). That's an easy way to make
money, but it produced (Milgram
apart) hardly anything of human or theoretical importance.
If you really want to
understand what moves people you have to read
great authors - that is: not fashionable shite, but the classical names.
They are worth it, because we know them as such because they have been
filtered out as such, in the course of centuries. I am myself most impressed
by the ancient Greeks: Sophocles and
Aeschylos; by Shakespeare (best edition is a 3 volume set
Pelican edition); by Montaigne; by William Hazlitt (English
essayist 1778-1830, only comparable to Montaigne) and by the one great Dutch
I learned more from each of these persons than from all academic education I
received, and that is part from the joy - because each of those I mentioned
wrote like a semi-divinity.
Computers: I have now
since a bit more than one year a computer and I am seriously addicted. In that
year I learned more and enjoyed more than I learned from all the academic
education I passed through. And one conclusion is that whoever is not
competent with computers is running backward. The sooner you know your way in
computerland - and that means: a text editor; a spreadsheet; a dbase-program;
a program to draw; and a programming language (for the lovers of the subject:
my favourites are, in the same order, PCOutline, Lotus, Reflex, Paintbrush and
Turbo Pascal) - the more effective you will study, and may think, write,
reckon, draw etc.
Given the level of Dutch
academic education the minister of it would do wise to close all universities
and provide all aspiring intellectuals with a PC+software & a dole-income
instead. From the perspective of social justice, this would be much more fair,
since in fact only students with rich parents can afford to buy a PC or to
study. Another argument: 1 professor = 20 PCs per year, in terms of costs. The
net yield of 1 PC used during 1 year = (minimally) 25 times that of 1
professor. Conclusion: The organic professorial intelligence is 500 times
inferior to artificial intelligence, seen costs-effectively. O well.
In conclusion: When I started
studying (when I was 27) I had given myself a great part of what I listed
above as material for a propaedeutical course, together with some 2000 other
The consequence was one grand horror-experience when confronted with
the acadamic "education" I received in the University of Amsterdam. It was an
education that totally did not square with what I had learned to know as real
science - and my sources were not a few obscure Dutch Masters of Art teaching
at some minor Dutch university, but the best scientists, philosophers and
writers there are in the world, as made accessible by that most excellent
means of joy and education that is called "book". However that may be: There
is real joy and real knowledge to be found in science. And more than Buddha I
cannot do for you: Behold! Paradise is there, where your intellectual horizon
tends to; hell - the Psychotic Lab
- rules here. I wish you a lot of pleasure
"All that we
are is the result of what we have thought. All that we are is founded upon
our thoughts, and formed on our thoughts."
Four reasons to translate the above are:
- It still is quite a useful and informative text.
- It explains rather a lot about me and my "career". (Nobody else
could have written the above at that time and at that place, and
noone did, because everyone was more stupid and less honest. And let
me remark that all my complaints about Dutch education were, by
logical implication, fully supported by the Parliamentary Report
Dijsselbloem of 2008, that I still believe derives in part from my
site - except that I write much better and much more honestly
than a Parliamentary Committee, and except that the
Labour-liar Dijsselbloem got the kudos, the money, the
career-prospects, and the free standing own home in Gouda, while I
suffer pain and discrimination).
- It also explains implicitly why I have been removed from the
University of Amsterdam repeatedly (which would not have
happened in Harvard or Cambridge, at the same time, for writing the
same things: There exceptional individuals get some protection and
chances, instead of systematic discrimination and repeated removal
for speaking the truth.)
It provides some background to the formal reason for
removing me from the faculty of philosophy, 9 months before the above
text was written: 39
Questions about the qualities of education and government in the
Anyway: The above and the last link have been considered
and publicly decried as "fascistic" and "terroristic" by almost everybody
employed by, studying in, or seeking a career at the University of
Amsterdam, (*) which is a degenerate, decrepit sick
institution for the creepier kind of Labour lefty with academic
pretensions, a mini-brain and an apparatchik-soul, of which it is full to
It may be there still are a handful of intellectuals in
the University of Amsterdam, but you'll find them only in such
departments as require real talent, such as mathematics or physics.
P.S. I'd like to add a number of notes to the
above, if only to clarify myself to myself, but that has to wait till
another day, possibly tomorrow. As it is, it should be able to explain in
principle even to Americans and Englishmen who know little of Amsterdam
or me that and why and how I really differ from other men (and women).
ETA August 10: The numbers of the notes have been
It should also give the more intelligent some reason for
thought, together with this observation: It was not that I said what only
a pure genius could see, for in fact a sizable minority of professors at
the time did see things more or less like I did, and indeed wanted
me to say these things in public "because you can do that so
But nobody dared to speak up, for fear of loosing
money or a career, even in the liberal democratical state of law they
lived in, healthy and wealthy also, without any personal physical risks
Nobody of the many whores of reason of my generation
ever lifted a finger to preserve good education, good universities, real
science or real civilization.
Nearly all of them got a university position with
verbal or real support for and from the communist party or the radical left.
None of them cared anything for real science: all of them
were party-political and/or journalistic careerists.
Many were quite convinced I was "a fascist" and "a
terrorist" for saying the above (and similar things, since 1977, in
public, while ill with ME, like my then wife).
Nearly all of the whores of reason of my age
still are professors, doctors or lecturers;
have been so for the last 30 years; have never
contributed anything of any scientific,
moral, artistic, stylistic or human value; but still appear daily in the
media or the papers with elaborate facilities, kudos and portrait
pictures to write about "the rights of animals" or "the equivalence of
If Holland turns neo-nazi,
which it well may do in a few weeks, months or years,
what with the freak Wilders; the utterly spineless Dutch political
assholes dancing attendance around him; and the moronic level of
education of nearly all Dutchmen except a tiny fraction of privately
educated ones, it are the
academically educated whores of reason of my generation who are
responsible, and who furthered their careers by scolding everyone who
stood in their way for being "a fascist".
For more see
Why my family was in The Dutch
Resistance in WW II and
Laudatio Neerlandica and indeed
Heleen Mees, who may have found her mind at last and at
least writes sensibly these days. (**)
P.P.S. It may be I have to stop
Nederlog for a while. The reason is that I am physically not well at
all. I don't know yet, but if there is no Nederlog,
now you know the reason.